Asia

Several thousand domestic workers waiting to enter S'pore in next 3 months: Gan Siow Huang

SINGAPORE – More migrant domestic workers (MDWs) will be able to enter Singapore in the coming months if the Covid-19 situation continues to stabilise locally and regionally, Minister of State for Manpower Gan Siow Huang said on Tuesday (Nov 2).

Due to the high demand for entry approvals, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will continue to prioritise families with caregiving needs, Ms Gan told the House in response to MPs who asked about the number of domestic helpers allowed into Singapore in recent months, as well as the related costs.

MOM will also help to facilitate the entry of MDWs for households with healthcare workers, so the front-line workers can better focus on their work.

Ms Gan revealed that from May to October this year, an average of 900 MDWs entered Singapore each month, as entry approvals for such workers had been tightened since May to manage Covid-19 importation risks.

This compares to an average of 3,400 MDWs each month from January to April this year.

Responding to a question from Mr Ang Wei Neng (Jurong GRC) on expected figures, Ms Gan said several thousand such workers are waiting to enter Singapore in the next three months.

“But I think the more important point is how we are able to gradually increase the entry of MDWs while protecting public health in Singapore,” she said.

“We are committed to continue to look at increasing the entry approval quota together with our MTF (the multi-ministry taskforce handling Covid-19) colleagues, so that we can clear as many MDWs to come in as possible for the next three months.”

Households that still require MDWs urgently may consider the commercial programme by the Association of Employment Agencies (AEAS) that helps with the transfer of domestic workers who already have the relevant documentation overseas, Ms Gan noted.

She said these workers can be onboarded within a week or two, and arrive in Singapore within a month.

As at end-October this year, the AEAS initiative has facilitated the entry of more than 1,000 MDWs from the Philippines, Indonesia and Myanmar. The scheme will be expanded to India.

The fees charged vary across employment agencies, service providers and home countries of the MDWs.

Households with financial difficulties can apply for waiver of costs of local Covid-19 tests and stay-home notice dedicated-facility accommodation for newly arrived MDWs in Singapore.

Ms Gan noted that while only a limited number of MDWs have entered Singapore over the past months, the number of MDW transfers have remained stable.

The average monthly salary of transfer MDWs was $630 in 2020, and has increased to $660 as at September this year.

Noting that the past months have been challenging for families waiting for the entry of MDWs, Ms Gan said: “We will continuously review the entry approval quotas together with the MTF, with a view to fulfill the needs of families as quickly as possible.”

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